May 18, 2001 • By Ed Wrather
A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. - Luke 15:11-13.
In Ohio last Tuesday there was a near disaster as a runaway freight train with hazardous materials on board traveled some 70 miles before being stopped. The train reached speeds of 46 mph. A catch engine was sent after the runaway train and as it slowed going up a hill the chasing engine was able to hook on. The catch engine applied braking power and was able to slow the train to about 10-mph. That was when engineer, Jon Hosfeld, jumped on board the runaway and brought it safely to a halt.
The lives of some people are like a runaway train. The prodigal’s life went from bad to worse picking up speed in his downward plunge. Most of us know people like that. Some of us have close friends or even relatives whose lives are out of control and picking up speed. How do you stop a runaway life?
Ohio’s runaway train offers some suggestions as to how to stop a runaway life. In order to stop the train they had to first want to stop it. Then they had to take action to slow it enough for the engineer to board and stop the train.
Our first reaction to those whose lives are fast becoming disasters may be “what’s the use?” Don’t give up on people! The Father did not give up on the prodigal. He was still watching and waiting for his return “...when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Maintain as much contact with the runaway as possible to slow down and block their self-destruction. Continue to pray for them and ask others to pray. They have no defense against our prayers.
Our ultimate goal is to get the Chief Engineer (Jesus) on board their lives. Once the Chief Engineer is on board He will bring the runaway to a halt and begin the restoration process. “But the father said to his servants, ’Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”